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405 rates Die! Die! Die!'s Harmony 7/10

DDD sound as inspired as ever, and despite their rather convoluted band history, have remembered to let their music do the talking, and it shows

If there's one thing that travelling does to a band, it teaches them not to box themselves into any one genre or idea. 'Die! Die! Die!' can count themselves among New Zealand's finest musical exports today, but it's not likely they would have gotten to where they are now if they hadn't travelled so much. What do Chicago, Steve Albini, France and Northern Ireland all have in common? They are all integral parts of the band's story, the former two being where and with whom they recorded their self-titled debut in 2005, and the latter two being where they recorded their new album, 'Harmony', and where it's ended up after being self-released in New Zealand last year. Smalltown America is quite an influential label, and the band slot in nicely next to bands like 'LaFaro' and 'Axis Of' - oh, and just by the way, they were the ones who launched 'And So I Watch You From Afar'. DDD have ended up there after a decade as a band, and it's the perfect platform from which to unleash their best record yet.

The band have variously been described as, punk, post-punk and noise rock, but they stubbornly refuse to be boxed in. Their guitar-heavy sound features shoegaze-y walls of noise every now and then, and there's some math-rock restlessness in there too; in fact, all of this can be found in the album's title track, whose fast-paced opening gives way to a drawn-out instrumental section that highlights the band's use of dynamics before opting for an almost overpoweringly loud finale. Coupled with the tight and confident dance-punk of opener "Oblivious Oblivion", one could worry that the band have shown their hand too early, but thankfully they're only just getting warmed up. No longer the same band who squeezed 10 songs into 22 minutes on their debut, they're instead comfortable with stretching things out, with even the shortest track "Erase Waves" packing a considerable amount of abrasive thrills into 2-and-a-half minutes. The band's new viewpoint becomes more noticeable as the album goes on, too, with "No One Owns a View" giving their old sound a bit of a polish and producing one of the best tracks on the record in the process.

The real standouts on 'Harmony', however, are saved for last, with "Twitching Sunshine" a frantic noise-rock track that bristles with energy and helps the album to draw to a close in the same driven manner in which it started, before the trio go all cinematic for closing track "Get Back", which pushes their sound in a more atmospheric direction that would certainly be interesting for them to explore more of, going out with a bang with its punishingly loud finish. DDD sound as inspired as ever, and despite their rather convoluted band history, have remembered to let their music do the talking, and it shows: they could have pursued a one-track-minded approach to creating Harmony, but they've never been known to take the easy way out. Both literally and figuratively, 'Die! Die! Die!' have travelled a lot to get to their present location, and they could go on to do even better things from here. Til then, we're more than happy with this.

Rating: 7/10
 

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